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Legal advice about former councillor convicted of rape to be released

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THE COUNCIL’S legal advice relating to former councillor and convicted rapist Dai Boswell will be released into the public domain.

In a recorded vote at Thursday’s (Dec 13) Full Council meeting, 41 members voted in favour of the documents being released with just seven voting against.

Cllr Jacob Williams submitted a notice of motion calling for it to be made public and the matter was discussed by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee before coming back to council.

He stated that having seen the documents and providing sensitive information isn’t divulged, that the public has every right to see them.

Boswell was elected in 2017 but did not take up his seat for the first month and the council instructed legal advisor James Goudie QC to give his advice on the matter.

The Council spent over £2000 in doing so and had recommended that the information should not be released.

At Thursday’s meeting Cllr Brian Hall said: “On November 15, the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee discussed releasing instructions and evidence which was called for a month after the 2017 election.

“The leader made it clear at a meeting on July 26 that the instructions and advice would be made available to members. The council is now seeking general publication. The recommendation was that the instruction and advice should not be made available as Cllrs could view documents on a need to know basis in order to satisfy themselves in their councillor capacity.

“Two members spoke in support saying the documents contained matters of public interest and that it should be in the public domain.”

Cllr Jacob Williams added: “The legal advice seeking to be published relates to a period of time after Dai had been elected and before he was found guilty. The council were preventing him from taking his seat despite him not being charged.

“Well over £2000 was spent that the council hadn’t been made aware of. I did get it so that councillors were able to see that advice and what I read was a real eye-opener.

“The Monitoring Officers’ report objecting had a number of red herrings and straw men. She said it will create a precedent but I am not seeking to create that. This is just to release two specific documents.

“She also said that approving any request would open up a can of worms if the interest and advice was publicised and that anything that appears in the media would lead to the council conducting business with its hand behind its back.

“This is just this set of legal advice which reflects poorly on senior members of this authority. I am one of the most vocal councillors in opposing the whim of officers when they find themselves in a bind, they go to lawyers to get themselves out of a pickle. This has been a very expensive lesson.”

Cllr Michelle Bateman asked how many councillors had asked to see the legal advice and the Monitoring Officer Claire Jones said that just two had asked, one of which was Cllr Williams.

Cllr Mike Stoddart said: “The Monitoring Officer states that it is not advisable to proactively publish this but we are not proactively publishing. This has been dragged out by the notice of motion. This will be reactive.

He went on to say that there were occasions when the council should keep its advice close to its chest but said this was not one of those occasions.

The debate took a different turn when Cllr Mark Carter asked the leader if views expressed on social media bordered on ‘workplace bullying’ but Council Leader David Simpson said he was not a policeman and that he could not close down a Facebook page.

Cllr Mike Evans added: “I don’t want to see this advice but this is about the principle of whether the public should be allowed to see the advice. The officers are here to give us the whole picture and not the windows they wish us to look through.”

Monitoring Officer Claire Jones gave a lengthy speech about the possible publication of the documents stating that her recommendations to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were to do with responsible publication and that it was not to be done lightly.

Claire Jones added that Cllr Boswell’s appeal remains live and that there were still victims at the heart of this.

She went on to say that safeguarding was a matter for everyone and that her door was always open to members to come in and discuss issues and that due to the amount of social media interest it was moving towards the documents being in the public interest.

Cllr David Simpson said he was concerned that only two members had seen the advice and that others were discussing without having seen it.

Cllr Williams summed up saying that the speech the Monitoring Officer gave was one of the most ‘memorable’.

In the recorded vote 41 members voted in favour of the advice being released with seven voting against and six abstaining.

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Welsh Deputy Minister visits New Farm Shop

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Pictured : Julie Morgan AM

A new farm and produce shop on the Scolton Manor estate outside Haverfordwest has been visited by a Welsh Government Minister.

Julie Morgan AM – Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care – called at the shop to see the Welsh Government’s Intermediate Care Fund (ICF) in action.

The shop provides work experience, training and supported employment opportunities in retail and customer service for people with learning disabilities, disabilities and autism.

It is an addition to Pembrokeshire County Council’s existing supported employment offer through Norman Industries, the Authority’s sheltered employment factory in Snowdrop Lane, Haverfordwest.

The shop is the result of partnership working involving Workways+ and Experience for Industry – both funded by the European Social Fund through Welsh Government – Norman Industries and the management and staff at the Council-run Scolton Manor attraction.

The shop, which opened just a few weeks ago, will be supplying the public with fresh produce from the walled gardens at Scolton Manor, local meats, produce, tea and coffee.

It also provides a retail outlet for some of the arts, crafts and products made at Norman Industries.

Over the coming months the shop will also be supplying chutneys made by participants and employees at the supported employment café in Milford leisure centre ‘Caffi Man Cwrdd’.

The Deputy Minister was welcomed by County Councillor Tessa Hodgson, the Authority’s Cabinet Member for Social Services.

The farm shop has been partially resourced and staffed through some of the £400,000 ICF money allocated to expand supported employment opportunities regionally.

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Haverfordwest: Police promise extra patrols for GCSE results night

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THERE will be an increased police presence in Haverfordwest tonight, in response to an anticipated influx of young people who will be celebrating their GCSE results.

Parents are being asked to go over their child’s plan for the evening, before they head out. Sergeant Haydon Mathias is overseeing the operation.

He said: “It’s a big day for teenagers, and we understand they want to celebrate after all of their hard work.

“We’ll be there to make sure they do that safely, and without disrupting others.

“This is usually a busy night for us, and historically we have seen crime and anti-social behaviour rise. You’ll notice my team out and about from early this evening to stop that happening. They’ll be seizing alcohol from anyone they suspect is under the age of 18, and dealing with any other issues that arise.

“We’re asking parents to take the reins and discuss plans before your child goes out. Make sure you know where they’re celebrating, who they’re with, and how they’re getting home. It’s useful to make sure your child’s phone is fully charged, in case of an emergency.

“I encourage anyone with concerns to come and speak to an officer or Police Community Support Officer around the town, or contact Dyfed-Powys Police.”

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Llangwm Church Donation Box Stolen

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St Jerome’s Church: Second theft in a year!

 

A DONATION box has been stolen from a village church, the second theft from the historic building in a year.

The donation box at St Jerome’s Church, Llangwm, is believed to have been taken in the last few weeks.

The box is usually kept next to the Talking Tapestry of Langum, a project which tells the story of the village’s origin with the invasion of the Flemish in the 12th century and its later history.

Pamela Hunt of Heritage Llangwm said: “This theft is the second from St. Jerome’s in a year.

“If anyone has seen or knows anything, then please let the police know.

“If they feel unable to do that, but would like to contact us at St Jerome’s Church, then email info@heritagellangwm.org.uk

“We will treat your contact in the strictest confidence.”

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